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Highlights of Springfield Massachusetts Tour
Item 10 of 10
For much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Springfield was known as "the city of firsts." Industry was an important part of the city's economy, and Springfield produced numerous "firsts"--the first gasoline-powered automobile and the first motorized fire engine, to name just two. It was also in Springfield that the Indian Motorcycle was created, its developers becoming the first successful motorcycle manufacturers in the United States. The massive Indian Motorcycle was located in what is now the Winchester Square Historic District, home to much of Springfield's industry. The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Aerial view of the Indian Motorcycle Factory

Aerial view of the Indian Motorcycle Factory

Contemporary view of the factory

Contemporary view of the factory
Industry developed early in Springfield, driven by the power harnessed from the Connecticut River. In the eighteenth century, numerous mills were established in the city, and the establishment in 1794 of a United States Armory in the city led to increased industrial development. Industry continued to flourish in the nineteenth century following the construction of the Springfield and New London Railroad in 1870, and the city gradually became a railroad center as well.

In the late nineteenth century, a number of industrial buildings were constructed near the intersection of State Street and Wilbraham Road, which was near a stop on the newly constructed Springfield and New London Railroad. Because of the presence of the Armory in Springfield, munitions manufacturing had long been a major part of the city's economy, and the first building constructed on what would become Winchester Square was the Bullard Repeating Arms Company, which was built in 1883.

The Bullard Repeating Arms Company didn't last for long, and eventually the building that housed the company was purchased by George Hendee, who moved his motorcycle company to the site. His company, originally known as Hendee Manufacturing Company, was later renamed the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company (the "r" was originally left out of motorcycle). Hendee greatly enlarged the building's size, adding two stories to the original building and adding other structures as well. The company would eventually occupy a triangular parcel between State Street and Wilbraham Road, a far larger space than the original Bullard building. By 1914, Indian, known as the first American motorcycle, was world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles.

Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company continued to operate out of the Springfield facility until 1953, when it closed. Since that time, the buildings have been used for numerous purposes and some have been demolished. The original building was preserved and after sitting vacant for a number of years, it was recently restored and converted into apartments. Winchester Square was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Indian Motorcycles. Motorcyclepedia Museum. . Accessed December 09, 2018.

The Glory Days of Springfield's Indian Motorcycle. New England Historical Society. . Accessed December 09, 2018.

Strahan, Derek. Indian Motorcycle Factory, Springfield, Mass. Lost New England. April 29, 2015. Accessed December 09, 2018.